Cablegate: Dart Update On Babil
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KUWAIT 002521
STATE ALSO PASS USAID/W
STATE PLEASE REPEAT TO IO COLLECTIVE
STATE FOR PRM/ANE, EUR/SE, NEA/NGA, IO AND SA/PAB
NSC FOR EABRAMS, SMCCORMICK, STAHIR-KHELI, JDWORKEN
USAID FOR USAID/A, DCHA/AA, DCHA/RMT, DCHA/FFP
USAID FOR DCHA/OTI, DCHA/DG, ANE/AA
USAID FOR DCHA/OFDA:WGARVELINK, BMCCONNELL, KFARNSWORTH
USAID FOR ANE/AA:WCHAMBERLIN
ROME FOR FODAG
GENEVA FOR RMA AND NKYLOH
ANKARA FOR AMB WRPEARSON, ECON AJSIROTIC AND DART
AMMAN FOR USAID AND DART
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREF IZ WFP
SUBJECT: DART UPDATE ON BABIL
1. The start of the June 1 food distribution was delayed
one day in Babil because food agents needed to replace old
food-recipient lists with updated ones that included newly
registered people, such as newborns and returning Babil
residents. The DART participated in the daily Governorate
Support Team meeting in Al Hillah, providing updates on the
food distribution and DART partner activities in Al Hillah.
The DART returned to Al Hillah pediatric hospital and found
some conditions improved. End Summary.
BABIL FOOD DISTRIBUTION DELAYED ONE DAY
2. The June public distribution system (PDS) began in Al
Hillah with food agents obtaining the new registration lists
for their beneficiaries from the Ministry of Trade (MOT) re-
registration center. The U.N. World Food Program (WFP)
staff confirmed that the lists were ready and that the
agents would begin ration pick-up at the main warehouse on 2
June. WFP international sub-office staff briefed Coalition
operations officers on security procedures at the warehouse
on 1 June.
3. The DART visited the cold warehouse facility that
currently stores sugar and tea commodities, and noticed
possible unexploded ordnance (UXO) contamination at the
facility. The DART will request from the Civil Military
Operations Center (CMOC) in Al Hillah that a UXO sweep the
area. This cold-store facility is not involved in the
4. The DART met with two members of the Salvation Army (SA)
to discuss the SA/WFP memorandum of agreement and the
present WFP plans for the June distribution. SA said it had
been assigned to Al Hillah to assist WFP in monitoring on-
DEMONSTRATION AT AL HILLAH CITY HALL
5. "With our souls, we will sacrifice to protect our
country," chanted 200 to 250 former Iraqi soldiers and
others outside Al Hillah's City Hall where the CMOC is
based, angry over their loss of jobs and lack of salaries.
Some had also expressed anger over newly distributed CMOC
weapons-collections fliers by tearing them up and throwing
them in the air.
6. A Civil Affairs officer of the Governorate Support Team
(GST) announced a draft proposal to create an Al Hillah
"conservation corps," employing 200 people for such projects
as painting public buildings, installing trash cans in
Babil, planting trees along highways, and building
playgrounds and public benches. It would be a branch of the
municipal public works department. Any citizen could
nominate a public-works project for the corps through the
city council. There are no funds currently earmarked for
the corps, and there is doubt whether it could be
sustainable. It also requires the governor's approval.
7. The GST health officer said the Ministry of Health (MOH)
drug distribution center of Babil was sending three trucks
to MOH-Baghdad tomorrow to pick up medical equipment and
supplies. The manager of the Babil pharmacy department,
confirmed the plan. She also announced that the Coalition
forces based in Al Hillah had donated to the Babil MOH some
excess medical supplies.
8. A Civil Affairs officer reported there was no news of re-
supplies of benzene, and added that liquid petroleum gas
(LPG) "was another nightmare." Coalition forces faced
hostile crowds that threw stones at them yesterday at a
Babil LPG distribution center because of anger over LPG
shortages and an unorganized local distribution process. At
least for the short-term, the Coalition forces will control
the individual sale of LPG at this distribution center.
AL HILLAH PEDIATRIC HOSPITAL
9. Since the DART last visited the Babylon Maternity and
Children's Hospital in Al Hillah on 15 May, the security,
drug supply, electricity, and staff productivity have
improved. However, salaries remain unpaid, and there are
shortages of oxygen and certain essential drugs, according
to the hospital's director. He also said the hospital's air-
conditioning system was failing and that three of four
elevators were out of service. A drug shipment arrived at
the MOH drug warehouse in Babil last week from MOH in
Baghdad, providing some relief to the hospital that now has
sufficient stock of most drugs for June.
10. Certain drugs remain short, including Pentostam, a drug
for "Black Fever" disease. The director said 42 vials
arrived last week, but 200 would be needed to cover the
hospital's need for this year. A lack of Pentostam is
chronic. "I think a large number (died this year) because
of shortage," he said.
11. Security has improved at the hospital even though the
director's request for a Coalition security presence was
denied. He is pleased about reports that the hospital self-
financing system will gradually disappear. He thought a fee-
for-service system was especially hard on the poor.
Electricity was bad through last week, the director said,
but has improved each day. The hospital's two generators
are working well.
12. Over 60 percent of children arriving at the hospital
suffer from gastrointestinal problems, the director said.
In the last month, the director said there had been only one
to two suspected cholera cases. Last year, the director
said there had been a cholera "epidemic." About 60 to 70
percent of the female adult patients are anemic, according
to a female doctor of gynecology at the hospital who said
anemia had increased dramatically under 12 years of
international sanctions on Iraq. Prior to the Gulf War in
1991, she said she had treated relatively few anemic women
in a health clinic where she worked.
13. The hospital normally requires 30 to 40 bottles of
oxygen per day; today it makes due with 10 to 15. Some
relief is expected from the international "Red Cross" that
promised the hospital 80 bottles of oxygen. A truck was
sent to Baghdad today to pick them up. Oxygen is currently
rationed in surgical procedures, used only at the beginning
and end of operations. Minor surgery uses no oxygen. As a
result, only one of four surgical theaters is open. "All
the patients are standing there (waiting)," the female
doctor said, "one after the other" to undergo surgery. The
premature baby's ward had several incubators, all working
well. The hospital's director said they were only five
years old. "That's very new for us," he said.